Food Conspiracy Co-op Still Sets the PaceJul 02, 2013 07:53PM ● By Sylvia Haskvitz
This year, the Food Conspiracy Co-op was voted the Best Organic Food Store by Tucson Weekly readers and the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “The Food Conspiracy makes Whole Foods look like 7-11.”
The popular co-op has been around since February 1971, when a radical Tucson political group known as the John Brown Party came together to buy food collectively. Although they didn't know much about buying clubs, that is exactly what they formed, because they wanted control of their own food supply. It was deemed a “conspiracy” to radically change the way people did business, and so their rallying cry became, “Food for people, not for profit.”
Their purpose of this thriving, ethical, environmentally conscious and cooperatively owned business is to provide healthy, high-quality food and products as locally and sustainably produced as possible. They also provide education that encourages informed choices about health, food, the environment and cooperatives.
Having recently remodeled the 42-year-old store and expanded the mostly organic kitchen, Food Conspiracy sells prepared foods to fill the community’s ever-growing demand. Most popular are raw kale salads. A savory kale chickpea salad is made with kale, chickpeas, bell pepper, plenty of garlic and Romano cheese. Another favorite combines kale with loads of seeds, coconut, ginger and lime juice. Like everything else they make, there is an emphasis on organic ingredients and local if they can get it.
In addition to a full salad bar, they make two soups daily; one is always vegetarian and/or vegan. The hot bar rotates daily with a vegetarian and vegan option, too. Favorites include red Chile enchiladas, red curry (chicken or tofu), cashew chicken with ginger rice, Bolivian quinoa stew and shepherd's pie. They make breakfast burritos, muffins, yogurt parfaits with their own house-made granola and bagels. Sandwiches, including the award-winning tempeh BLT, wraps and loads of ready-to-eat salads containing beets, pasta, tuna, egg, kamut and quinoa are all on the menu. For dessert, they have co-op cookies, brownies, chocolate tofu pudding and coconut quinoa pudding. They use primarily organic olive, canola and flax oils.
Food Conspiracy Co-op is the only retail food co-op in the state of Arizona and one of 138 nationwide. It belongs to the Natural Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA). Founded in 1999, NGCA is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States that helps optimize operational and marketing resources, and strengthen purchasing power. With 2,600 owners, 34 employees and throngs of volunteers, Food Conspiracy is a cooperative business model, because everyone benefits. Owners get to participate in special sales and receive a patronage rebate at the end of the year. Members that choose to resign their membership during the year are guaranteed to get their money back.
The Food Conspiracy Co-op sells foods from local farmers that include Forever Yong, Avalon Gardens, Walking J and English Fruit Farm. The co-op gave Sleeping Frog Farms $25,000 to help them expand their resources, and the farm was able to pay the money back in produce over a two-year period, interest-free.
Location: 412 N. 4th Ave., Tucson. For more information about Food Conspiracy Coop, call 520-624-4821 or visit FoodConspiracy.coop.
Sylvia Haskvitz is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings.